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Thames Water Uses GIS for Crisis Response and Customer Care

Thames Water relies on GIS for rapid, customer-focused crisis response. Learn how their innovative approach ensures uninterrupted service during emergencies, fostering collaboration and enhancing preparedness.  

Photo of a large metal pipe and valve leaking with bursts of water in a water treatment plant.

Metal pipe leak in a water treatment plant

In the face of extreme weather events, Thames Water in the UK ensures swift response to emergency events using geographic information system (GIS) technology. With live incident data displayed on dashboards and interactive maps, the utility maintains a high standard of service for its 16 million customers (equivalent to the population of Ontario), delivering 2.6 billion litres of clean drinking water every day. GIS has become an indispensable tool for Thames Water, which provides water and wastewater services across 13,000 square km, delivering benefits not only to customers but also to the broader community.  

Coverage map of the UK region served by Thames Water for water and wastewater services.

Thames Water provides water and wastewater services in the UK across 13,000 square km, roughly the size of Portage la Prairie, MB. 

Challenge: Navigating Unforeseeable Incidents 

When the “Beast from the East”, an anticyclone struck Southern England in February 2018, Thames Water encountered significant challenges. Clean water interruptions and network repair delays caused by heavy snowfall highlighted the critical need for real-time information and a more customer-centric response strategy. Thames Water recognized the urgency of enhancing its emergency management capabilities to better serve its customers during such crises.              

"ArcGIS allows us to share information far more effectively with external stakeholders. The maps of incident areas bring the situation to life, so other organizations can easily understand what is going on and can support us."

 ~ Louise Bates, Platform Architect, Thames Water  

Solution: Leveraging ArcGIS for Enhanced Emergency Management  

As a long-term user of Esri's ArcGIS Enterprise platform, Thames Water swiftly deployed an Emergency Incident Management solution. This innovative solution comprises three main components:  

Incident Viewer: This interactive dashboard provides real-time insights into emerging incidents, allowing Thames Water to proactively identify and address potential disruptions to its customers' water supply.  

Incident Manager: Empowering managers to make rapid decisions during emergencies, this solution facilitates efficient resource allocation and intervention planning, ultimately expediting the restoration of water supplies.  

Incident Reviewer: By enabling Thames Water to review past incidents and extract valuable insights, this component supports continuous improvement, ensuring the organization is better prepared for future emergencies.  

 Moreover, Thames Water augmented its emergency management solution with an ArcGIS mobile app, enabling field employees to record critical data on the go, ensuring seamless communication and decision-making.  

Emergency management dashboard used by Thames Water to track live events, areas experiencing water outages, leaks, low pressure, water quality and other relevant factors. This dashboard updates data every 15 minutes.

Thames Water’s Event Viewer Dashboard displays the evolving situation during a live event. 

Benefits: Putting Customers First  

  1. Customer-Focused Responses: The Incident Viewer allows proactive customer communication, minimizing disruptions during incidents.  
  2. Faster Restoration: The Incident Manager facilitates rapid decision-making, improving the efficiency of emergency response.  
  3. Greater Preparedness: The Incident Reviewer provides insights to refine future response strategies.  
  4. Improved Collaboration: ArcGIS fosters better communication with external stakeholders, enhancing overall collaboration.  

“The Event Reviewer enables us to see in five minutes how the events of a 24-hour period unfolded and how they were managed. We can then learn a great deal about how to improve our response in the future to minimize or eliminate the impact of an unplanned event on our customers.”  

~ Chris Davis, Incident Manager at Thames Water 

 By embracing GIS technology, Thames Water has not only revolutionized its emergency management capabilities but has also reaffirmed its commitment to delivering exceptional service to its customers. As the water industry moves towards a data-driven future, Thames Water stands as a beacon of innovation, leveraging GIS to navigate challenges and ensuring a resilient and customer-focused water utility for all.  

Learn how Thames Water is proactively delivering data sharing requirements with one single, end-to-end platform solution (Feb 2024).  

    New to Geographic Information System (GIS) Technology? 

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    Learn how water utilities strengthen asset management and optimize decision-making with GIS on our Water Utilities Resources page. 

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    About the Author

    Rosalyn Laiken is a Marketing Specialist for Esri Canada. She focuses on industry solutions marketing and is passionate about exploring the intersection of technology with people. She has two decades of international marketing experience in IT marketing, as well as C-level marketing consulting. Rosalyn holds a bachelor of commerce majoring in marketing from Carleton University. She lived in South Korea and Australia for eight years, and loves using real-time spatial data while paragliding. When she is not glued to her computer, Rosalyn enjoys yoga, travelling, live music and exploring new cuisines.

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